Improving animal research

All our researchers follow the 3Rs – principles that are well established to improve research involving animals.

Replacement – looking for approaches that don't involve animals

Reduction – reducing the number of animals involved

Refinement – introducing ways to reduce any pain or stress experienced by animals

Our researchers are helping to improve animal research using these principles. This includes doing experiments on cells grown in the lab, examining samples of human tumours and using sophisticated computer programmes to understand how cancer behaves.

Scientists are also developing cutting edge ways to grow miniature 3D tumours in the lab. This will help to uncover how tumour cells communicate with the healthy cells around them and test new drugs in a more realistic way without involving animals. 

Researchers are designing tests that could predict side effects of new cancer treatments that boost our immune system. Using small samples of human blood might mean fewer animals are needed to check a drug’s safety. 

We've funded research into a technique that reduces the number of mice needed for drug testing by using more sensitive equipment to measure levels of a drug in the mice's bloodstream. The diagram below explains more.

Completely replacing all animals in research is not yet possible. For now we will continue funding the highest quality research – including research involving animals – to help beat cancer sooner.

Find out more

For further information about involving animals in our research: